East Lancashire Hospice

When you share, JOY Happens: Mary’s London Marathon 2023 Experience

Mary Ponfrett - London Marathon

Mary Pomfret, from Mellor, raced to the London Marathon finish line on 23rd April 2023 with determination to complete for us and her husband, Graham in her heart and mind.

This was not Mary’s first time being on the London Marathon course, it was actually her fourth time and the 26.2 miles distance was not new to her either. As a keen runner, Mary has completed this sort of distance more often than not, but what was different was what she experienced during these particular 26.2 miles.

Mary said, “My motivation to run was of course to help East Lancashire Hospice by raising money, and I sincerely thank people for their well wishes, support and making donations. Whether you realise it or not, you were some of my cheerleaders. People’s long distance support enabled me to continue with endurance, the race that was set before me.”

Mary trained well for the marathon and started with a finish time in her mind, she made sure she trained to that pace and wanted to finish the marathon in 6 hours 30 minutes. Half way through the course, she realised she was slightly off pace, but she did not let is put her off.

“I had just come down off Tower Bridge and I could see the quicker paced runners on the other side of the road, with only over 3 miles to complete. I had another 13.2 miles to go! Instead of feeling deflated, something else happened.”

She continued, “Endurance was never an issue for me, I never questioned whether I would finish. That is when something switched on inside me. I remembered an instruction that Graham told me back in 2009 in regards to the Berlin Marathon. I was concerned about my lack of training due to a foot injury. Graham reassured me to; Go and do the race to the best of my ability and enjoy it. That was it. That was now my focus for the remainder of the 13.1 miles.  Joy, celebrate and enjoy with other.”

With her husband Graham in the front of her mind, and refocusing on doing this in his memory for us, Mary found herself smiling with every foot strike.

“I wanted others to share the same joy and happiness that I was feeling, so when I would come up on a slower runner or walker who looked like they were struggling, I asked them how they were. Then I would ask them about their reason for doing the marathon and who they were doing it for. They willingly shared with me their stories. These were courageously wonderful stories of battles with personal illnesses or injuries, of limitations or disorders; of honouring loved ones who had passed and doing it for the charity that helped them through it. We were all in it together. One woman said she just had to come and talk with me because of the huge smile on my face. She said I looked like I was having way too much fun and needed to find out why.”

She continued, “I gave high fives to numerous out stretched hands and collected magic dust from the fingertips of the young children willing me along. I ran-sang-danced with musical choirs and cheered along with the celebratory pub patrons that loudly supported every runner that came passed.”

After meeting people along the way and sharing stories with one another, Mary’s marathon celebration was no longer self-centred, it became one of giving. Everyone was there to celebrate each other in their achievements, they were each other’s cheerleaders.

“This marathon was also very emotional for me. As I approached the last half mile on Birdcage Walk, almost at Buckingham Palace, the tears started. I imagined my late husband Graham, who passed 6 years earlier that very day, waiting at the finish line with my medal. When I made the last turn onto the Mall, saw my best friend Philippa cheering me from the viewing stands I was overcome with joy.”

“This finish meant more than any other marathon I had completed. I crossed the finishing mat with tears flowing. I knew it was Graham who was putting my medal around my neck even though it looked like a marathon official. I remember the lady saying to me; I take it this was for a loved one? I nodded through my sob, told her my ‘why’ story. She then asked if I wanted a hug. I replied with an emphatic YES, please!! (That too I knew was a well done hug from Graham). “

Mary completed the London Marathon with pride, love and joy. She had the best time taking part and did it all with a smile on her face. Not only did she complete the epic course, but she also raised £1,407.00 in memory of her husband, Graham.

mary pomfret - chq presentation

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